Long Haul: Journeyman 1.4 – Year of the Rabbit

In Year of the Rabbit, Dan gets caught up in a late ’90s killing, and things get awkward for everybody while Katie tries to host a black-tie benefit gala in what is perhaps the most uncomfortable episode of the series.

The episode starts at a wedding rehearsal — but not for anybody we know. And it’s a good thing these strangers are having a rehearsal, because it will, perhaps, prevent the bride from saying things like “for better or for worser” when the actual time comes.

They’re not why Dan’s there, though; they’re just there to be interrupted as a wrench clangs to the ground and he sits up in a back pew. The priest, thinking he’s homeless, gives Dan the name of someone who can help him find shelter. Perhaps getting used to the oddities that come with randomly appearing in the past, Dan just goes with it until he’s out of the church and then striding purposefully through San Francisco to the tune of The Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes.”

Must be the 90s.

And since we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the music of Journeyman.  Even though it’s probably part of the reason there are still no official DVDs, I like the way this show uses music. It not only gives an immediate feel for the time period, but — I noticed today — sometimes the choice of music is not entirely unrelated to the story at hand. Plus, it’s good music, generally. Click the link above for the complete series list.

So, back to Dan. He’s walking down the street, and he seems to be following a poor man’s Paul Rudd, but at the last minute he turns into Cafe Luna, which I think has popped in every episode so far, after spying a ’90s-Katie on TV and takes a seat at the bar.

A woman immediately asks if he’s William, the blind date she set up with a guy she met on “the World Wide Web.” William is described as blond and otherwise fitting Dan’s description. They banter back and forth a bit about how one becomes “very married.” Be incredibly lucky and meet the right person, Dan says.

Just then, Poor Man’s Paul Rudd walks in (show name Greg, apparently) demanding to know what’s going. Apparently he and the woman, Melissa, spent two years together and recently broke up. He’s angry and gets into a fight with Dan before being kicked out of the establishment just as William walks in — who, by the way, is not blond and looks absolutely nothing like Kevin McKidd. Oh, Internet. You never change.

Over the course of the episode, we learn that things work out well for Melissa and William. They get married and run online stock-brokering site utrademart.com. But when Utrademart goes belly-up things go bad for them in the past and Dan in the present.  I was going to try not to get overly recappy, but there’s a lot of overlap in the story lines this episode. So, bear with me.

But let’s get back to Dan’s present. He returns from his first journey, wrench in hand, to find water on the porch and streaming from the ceiling inside as Katie ineffectually and kind of hilariously stands on a stool with a small stockpot raised over her had to catch a stream of water raining down.

“Hey. I don’t think you finished fixing the upstairs bath,” she snarks as we go to the credits, which I haven’t mentioned before, but I really like  them.

As Dan and Katie clean up after the broken water pipe, we learn that Katie is not pleased. It’s not just the water pipe, or Dan’s unpredictable journeying through time — or even that he meets up with his ex-fiance while doing so, though all that plays a part. Her crisis du jour is the benefit gala she’s chairing for some unnamed fundraiser and all the problems that come with it. So, she’s got a little bit of stress going on, and she wants him at the gala, even though they both know his predicament makes any sort of hard committment impossible.

Meanwhile, Dan is also trying to learn more about his situation. After finding out the MRI he got in “Friendly Skies” came back normal, he’s investigating other avenues, starting with the paper’s science editor, who’s hooking him up with Elliot Langley, a researcher specializing in cosmic phenomena and tachyons — particles that speed faster than light and blah blah time-travel science.

When he first speaks to Langley on the phone, we learn that he used to know Dan’s father, who worked for the Register as a photographer while Langley worked with NASA. There’s not a lot of time for chatting though, so Langley tells Dan he’ll check his schedule and get back to him — but not before quipping about tachyons (“Not trying to build a time machine, are you?”). *Sniff sniff* I smell a multi-episode story arc!

On his second journey to the 90s this episode, Dan talks with Livia who grouses that Dan isn’t Katie’s type, but then goes on about how she’s happy for them, doesn’t want to hurt Katie, and this feels really repetitive. He also spies William — now Melissa’s fiance — buying a gun in an alley before running into Melissa.

If I have one major complaint about this show it’s the ease with which everyone remembers Dan a year or more later after having met him for, like, 15 minutes once before. But when one of my current shows features power outages because “Physics went insane” (REVOLUTION), that seems like kind of small potatoes in the world of realism complaints on genre shows.
Dan tells Melissa about the gun, and before she drives away, she says William bought it for her for protection and also fills him in on Utrademart, which she dumped a ton of money into helping William get it off the ground. As she leaves, Dan spots Poor Man’s Paul Rudd watching them from his car. Turns out he’s a cop and is following Melissa for…I’m not really sure why, beyond he’s kind of a jerk who can’t let go.

In the present, Dan looks up Melissa, and it turns out she was killed, and Poor Man’s Paul Rudd was the only suspect, released for lack of evidence. Dan calls Jack, interrupting his date with “a beautiful doctor” who’s also snarky and doesn’t seem to mind being compared to a five-pound trout on a two-pound line. I think I like her already. Sadly, between Dan’s call and a wreck with multiple victims on the highway, their date fizzles out with the promise that there will be another chance. Yay!

That evening, Dan and Katie are getting ready for the gala, which is black-tie. They both look lovely and everything seems normal, but you know it won’t last.  As Katie goes to answer the door for the babysitter, Dan travels back to 1998, where he sees William, now Melissa’s husband, fighting with her over a computer disk for their business (for which all the money everyone they know put toward it “is elsewhere…it’s INVESTED!”).

She refuses. William, an even bigger jerk than Poor Man’s Paul Rudd, pulls out a gun, saying “You’re making me do things I don’t wanna do!” Dan, who for all this time has just been hiding out by the copy machines decides this might be a good time to take William out. They fight, Dan grabs the gun and while William is down, he and Melissa run away.

Except then Dan ends up back in the present, running through the street with a gun in his hand. A camera flashes in his face, and you would think that would play a major role later in the episode but it doesn’t — and I don’t think it does in the rest of the series either, but it was incredibly awkward when it happened. Dan jumps in a cab as bystanders call the police.
He gets to the gala and finds Katie, who was escorted by Jack, because Dan disappeared and she panicked. They dance (in an attempt to get the guests to dance and forget they’re hungry because something’s wrong with the food),  but Dan looks pretty sweaty. He wipes his face with a handkerchief that has a few drops of blood on it and tells Katie he was in a fight, but he’s fine.

“You don’t look fine, you look hurt,” she says. “Can you get help back there? Can I help you back there?” I love how much she wants to be able to help, but Dan says she can’t.  “So, you can talk to Livia but you can’t talk to me?” Oh, please not this again. “Livia knows what you do,” she says as realization dawns.

“Livia does what I do,” Dan says, following it up with “but this changes nothing.

And, you know, there’s a scene in an episode of The West Wing that I can’t remember the name of (it’s Mr. Willis from Ohio, and wow, I didn’t expect westwingtranscripts.com to still exist), but I remember CJ snarking at, I think Josh, that he “was telling people to relax but with this sense of URGENCY(!)” that was not particularly relaxing.

This is kind of like that. Dan is not at all convincing, and when Katie moves closer to him, she finds out about the gun in his pocket (and neither of us are in the mood for a punchline here). He tries to explain it all away as nothing, but she’s freaked and says she has to get back to working the event, which apparently means she has to stand outside staring at nothing and obviously afraid until Jack comes to talk to her.

Dan’s in the bathroom, looking up information about Melissa on his phone. Turns out she ended up jailed for killing William. There’s no time to look up more, though, because Jack busts in,  kind of hilariously kicks some random guy out and locks the door so they can have an awkward chat about how Dan’s being weird and is going to lose Katie at this rate. They’re interrupted when security knocks on the door. The guard is a cop that Jack knows so he’s able to blow him off — but not before guard/cop says police are looking for a guy in a tuxedo that was spotted waving a gun around.  “Must be a pissed off maitre’ de” Jack says before turning back to Dan, who by this time has disappeared.

In ’98, with Livia’s help, he sneaks past 90s Katie, finds Poor Man’s Paul Rudd (who’s looking a lot less like Paul Rudd all of a sudden) and convinces him to help find Melissa and William.  William still gets shot but, with only a little fuss from PMPR, Dan plants William’s original gun back in his hand so it’s blatantly obvious that Melissa shot him in self defense (he had been stalking toward her with a giant sculpture).

This is the first episode where Dan’s mission wasn’t about saving  somebody (either directly or indirectly) who then goes on to save a ton of lives. I like that. I think things would get really stale otherwise.

Also, Dan gets a call on his cell from Elliot Langley. Just as Dan says this isn’t a good time to talk, he realizes that he’s still in ’98 and on his old 90s phone. Langley hangs up before he can address that, though.

I remember when I first saw this, my immediate thought was “Wow, that’s SPOOKY!” because it seemed like Langley  had some method of calling Dan across time. This time, though, my first thought was more along the lines of “Heh. I guess Dan’s had the same service/phone number all this time!” which is considerably less interesting. But between the time I started this post and now, I got to thinking — wouldn’t the call just go to Dan’s present-day iPhone? When Katie called him in “Friendly Skies,” it’s not like Past Dan’s phone started ringing.

So, now I can’t decide if it’s spooky or a plot hole.

Meanwhile, Jack confronts Katie about all the weirdness. She doesn’t tell him anything, but it looks like they might be about to have a real conversation when “their song” starts playing, and it  looks like there could be dancing. Except, they recognize that’s a bad idea and Jack leaves.

I think this is probably about the time where I started to feel like — as much as I like Dan/Katie —  I probably wouldn’t hate it if the show’s endgame was to reunite Dan and Livia as time-traveling do-gooders while Jack and Katie get back together in the present. But if that’s the plan, it doesn’t happen here. Because Dan comes back and he and Katie end up making out in the coat closet with the understanding that it doesn’t really fix any of the night’s problems.

I think this is the only episode in the entire series that I don’t particularly like. Dan’s just weird, Katie is a big ball of stressed and terrified, Jack’s confused and it’s all just an awkward mess full of loose ends. The only good thing we get out of it is Trout lady, who’s name I can’t remember, so I’ll probably be referring to her as Trout for far longer than necessary, and the full reveal about Livia to Katie.

And this post is far longer than it needs to be.

Next Up: The Legend of Dylan McCleen. Watch it online at hulu.com/journeyman.

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